Reports: Outside groups spending big to help Trump, Clinton
By Associated Press | September 21, 2016, 6:34 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say they raised record amounts of money in August for their presidential bids — a total of $233 million just in one month. And wealthy donors are pouring millions of dollars more into outside groups involved in the race for the White House and Senate contests.
Many of those groups, along with the presidential campaigns, are due to report the details of their late summertime fundraising and expenses to federal regulators on Tuesday.
Here are some takeaways from the reports:
TRUMP MANAGER SUPER PAC PAYMENT
A firm headed by Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, received almost $250,000 from a super PAC in late August, the same month the company also was paid $128,000 by the Trump campaign, new documents show. The payment from Make America Number 1 to Conway’s The Polling Company was made Aug. 23, more than a month after Conway joined Trump’s team and almost a week after Trump named her his campaign manager.
That super PAC is funded almost exclusively by conservative billionaire Robert Mercer, who had tapped her to lead the super PAC during the primary, when the group backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign continued paying its former manager, Corey Lewandowski. He and the campaign parted ways June 20, yet his Green Monster Consulting earned another $20,000 for “strategy consulting” on Aug. 11, the same amount it had regularly been paid.
CLINTON SPENDING SPREE
Clinton is spending at a faster clip than Trump. The difference meant his campaign started this month with nearly a $10 million cash advantage over hers.
Clinton’s campaign spent almost $50 million last month, nearly $12 million more than in July, including $33 million that went into advertising. She has blanketed the airwaves with thousands of commercials promoting her candidacy and attacking Trump as unfit for the presidency. And Clinton spent about $5 million on her roughly 800-person payroll.
The campaign raised more than $60 million in August; Clinton also helped raise another $81 million last month for the Democratic National Committee and state parties working to elect her. Trump’s campaign raised about $42 million and spent almost $30 million in August. Like Clinton, Trump also raised tens of millions of dollars more for the party.
MORE BIG CHECKS FOR CLINTON GROUP
Apart from the campaign, which faces $2,700-per-person, per-election donation limits, Clinton can count on several super political action committees to promote her candidacy. Donors can give those groups as much as they’d like.
The biggest one, Priorities USA, continued to haul in money from wealthy Democratic donors in August. The group raised $23 million last month. And it started this month with $41.5 million in the bank.
Nearly half of that came from a handful of big donors. Slim-Fast billionaire Daniel Abraham gave $3 million as did Chicago media billionaire Fred Eychaner. Combined, the two men have given the super PAC $16 million this election cycle.
Democratic super donors — both billionaire financiers — George Soros and Donald Sussman gave $2.5 million and $2 million, respectively, and Emerson Collective LLC, a social activism organization headed by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, contributed $2 million.
DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLICAN FUNDRAISING
The Democratic Party raised $29.4 million last month compared to $23.4 million brought in by the Republican National Committee. Both presidential nominees have been working to raise money for their respective parties — which in turn devote resources to help their White House bids.
Despite the similar August fundraising totals, the Democrats burned through far more cash, leaving the party with $11.5 million available as of Sept. 1, compared to the GOP’s nearly $41 million.
Billionaires are writing big checks to outside groups focused on the Senate, the August documents show.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC helmed by a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, raised more than $28 million in August after months of slow fundraising.
More than two-thirds of that haul came from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, marking their first major investments in the 2016 races. 39.3
The Democratic counterpart to the group, the Senate Majority PAC, raised $11.6 million last month. Its top August donor was Eychaner, who gave $3 million. Close allies of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid direct the super PAC.
Despite having been trounced in August fundraising, overall, the Democratic group has nearly kept pace with the Republican group, the reports show.
But brace for a flood of new Republican-boosting ads: The Senate Leadership Fund began this month with $40.2 million in the bank. The Senate Majority PAC had a little more than $12 million in available cash as of Sept. 1.
NRA FOR TRUMP
One of the most active outside groups backing Trump, the Republican nominee, is the political arm of the deep-pocketed National Rifle Association, which began September with about $10 million in the bank.
“The NRA — great people — they endorsed me,” Trump said at a rally Tuesday in North Carolina.
The NRA Political Victory Fund reported Tuesday that it raised $1.4 million in August, mostly from small donations, while it spent more than $3.9 million.
The majority of the group’s spending— some $3 million— was on television advertising opposing Clinton, the Democratic nominee, the reports show. According to the Kantar Media’s political ad tracker, the group’s ads have been concentrated in the battleground states of Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Iowa. The new reports also show the NRA set up pro-Trump booths at gun shows across the country.
FACEBOOK MONEY FOR CLINTON
Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of the social media site Facebook explained in an essay this month that he would spend $20 million to help elect Clinton and other Democrats. A chunk of that money — $5 million — showed up in the League of Conservation Voters’ bank account in August. That made up the majority of its almost $6 million in August fundraising, reports filed Tuesday show.
Nearly all of LCV’s expenses last month were related to television ads opposing Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. The group is also canvassing and mailing out pledge cards and other materials backing Clinton, filings show.